Category Archives: Mentoring

Is it beauty or expression that you love?

For me, it’s a joy to make beauty out of a “mess” on the canvas. I love nothing better than to make things beautiful, whether transforming a canvas, graphics, or a room.

I hadn’t thought that hard about whether other artists are this way.

Then one day my friend Greta remarked, “Well you artists, you love to express!”

I was taken aback. I realized for the first time as it came out of my mouth, “Some artists love to express. Others love to make things beautiful.”

Julie Bernstein Engelmann, “Like Rain in the Desert,” 28″H x 34″W, Acrylic and latex on unprimed canvas

Thus began a period of observation and introspection.

For one thing, the distinction between expression and making things beautiful led to an awareness of my superpower, helping other artists to see and bring out the beauty & spirit in their unfinished paintings.

For another though, I began to wonder whether my artistic expression was actually locked inside of me. I had gone through a long process to free my verbal expression after an unsafe childhood, but had thought my art haven was not subject to the same suppression.

Meanwhile, my longstanding fascination with intuitive painting came to the foreground. What would show up in my paintings if I were truly willing to express freely?

For many years I had enjoyed a book considered the mother lode of wisdom on intuitive painting: Life, Paint and Passion, Reclaiming the Magic of Spontaneous Expression, by Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley. Then last October I had the opportunity to attend Stewart Cubley’s workshop, The Painting Experience.

Stay tuned to hear about my expressive Painting Experience in my next blog post.

And let me know which you love more – expressing or making things beautiful – if you had to choose. I’m curious!

Summery Luscious Abstractions

Summer is always a time outside of time for me. Here are the Luscious Abstractions classes from the sunshine season.

Luscious Abstractions at the Sedona Arts Center, May 2017 and September 2017:

A sparkling artist, Lisa Pedersen, came from Los Angeles for a mentoring session in August 2017.

Tucson Workshop and the Abstracts of the Chiricahuas

I love combining travel and teaching. In April my sister Minda from Montreal came to Arizona for a reunion with me in Sedona and our other sister Beth in Tucson.

We were excited to plan the trip so they could both attend my Luscious Abstractions class. As it turned out, my daughter Amber attended too – as well as a dear artist friend from western Pennsylvania, Kathryn Galey!

Here are some moments from this special Luscious Abstractions class at the Sedona Arts Center, April 2017:

Then we sisters headed for southern Arizona. Here are some stunning abstractions from the Chiricahua National Monument:

Finally, knowing I would have a couple days to spare while Minda and our husbands went on a birding jaunt, I set up a workshop at the beautiful studio of Don Canada in Tucson with the help of amazing Marva.

Here are some of the sun-drenched moments of the workshop, Layers: Intuition to Composition in Tucson, April 2017:

The following month I had another opportunity to visit Beth in Tucson, and took advantage of the time to have a followup mentoring session with Marva at Don’s studio. Beth and I also hiked among the saguaro.

I needed some art supplies, and while at the store with Beth, got the inspiration to suggest that she buy some paint too! Next thing we knew, she was all set up with her own studio outdoors by the pool, painting ecstatically.

Elliott’s Painting Visit

Elliott, a Vital Abstracts mentoring client from New York City, had an inspiration. Why not take his vacation in Sedona, Arizona and get some private lessons from me in person at the same time? We timed the trip so that he could start with my two-day course, Luscious Abstractions.

Scenes from Luscious Abstractions at the Sedona Arts Center, March 2017:

Then we dove into several days of individual instruction:

We ended with a lovely hike at Sedona’s beautiful Bell Rock vortex. Unfortunately, my photos of the hike seem to have disappeared into the vortex, hopefully to be found at a later date!

The Art of Summer

Summer in the Southwest: hot, dry, timeless freedom. Here is how mine went.

Luscious Abstractions students painted enthusiastically at the Sedona Arts Center, May 2016.

Tracy, Gioia, Stephanie, Brenda

Tracy, Gioia, Stephanie, Brenda

In June a gentle free spirit, Marj Leininger, came from New Mexico for a private workshop. Here she is with our paintings-in-progress (hers on the left, mine at right).

Marj Leininger

The Sedona Summer Colony cast a charmed spell over six weeks of the summer. A new collaborative venture of the Sedona Arts Center, over 100 artists came from all across the USA to the beautiful red rocks of Sedona for inspiration and creation. My daughter was an intern for the Colony, so I led a number of hikes.

Devil’s Bridge Trail wound up through jutting rocks to a spectacular landscape:

Devil's Bridge, Sedona

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That last shot is quite abstract! Here is my daughter Amber on Dead Man’s Pass Trail:

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We also climbed the heart-stopping Cathedral Rock Trail:

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My hat tried to blow away in the gusty wind on those heights. Photo by Wanda Holmes

Summer in Arizona means hummingbirds! I make a practice of trying to photograph them in the sunset.

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Meanwhile, my painting “Saved by Flaw” was in the show Of the Earth at the Sedona Arts Center in July (biggest one in photo).

SACOfTheEarth-July2016

“Promontory” was in the Sedona Arts Center’s August show, Blowin’ in the Wind.

Photo by Beth Bernstein

Photo by Beth Bernstein

Local newspaper The Cottonwood Journal gave a cute caption to a photo of my painting. It says, “Gallery 527 artist Julie Bernstein Engelmann will show her work, ‘I May Be All That Exists.’ That is something to think about and discuss at First Saturday Art Walk on July 2 in Jerome.”

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In August my Luscious Abstractions class at the Sedona Arts Center included a joyful and loving combination of deeply spiritual people of different faiths.

Rabbi Alicia and Marj

Flo, Rabbi Alicia, Marj

Here are their fabulous paintings!

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L to R: Paintings by Marj Leininger, Linda Hogsett, Florence Johns, Alicia Magal

Marj, like summer, stayed for an extra day of pouring.

SACAug2016MarjLeiningerPouring

The summer wasn’t complete without a trip to Santa Fe, but that’s another post!

 

Let it be easy

To watch a good artist on a roll is to see ease in motion. Like a trickling brook, the artist cascades from one brushstroke to the next, allowing the gravity of ease to carry them. 

Less experienced artists may struggle. Overthinking and under-observing make it hard to hear the natural voice of ease and flow.

Let it be easy!

For example, does the motion of your brushstroke seem to expand your joy, intrigue, and relief? Or does it contract, like your mind is taking control because it doesn’t trust the muse? Expand or contract: that distinction makes it easy!

Listen richly to life.

See if you have room, right now, to loosen up and let it be easy. Allow the light and sound around you to help you — you are in an ocean of Source!  Each moment is a chance to open to expansion and ease.

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Let It Be Easy, by Julie Bernstein Engelmann, acrylic and latex on partially primed canvas, 24″H x 30″W

Bringing your art to life

What does your art mean to you?

When the subject of making art comes up in conversation, I notice three types of responses:
1. “I couldn’t do it to save my life.”
2. “I love painting; it helps me relax.”
3. “I am an artist.”

While person #3 may go on to tell me about their process or work, their eyes belie the ease of their conversation, conveying a range of emotions that says, without words:

There is no way you will ever know what I feel about my art, what it has meant to me in my life, what I go through to make it meaningful, what it means to me now.

Artmaking, for an artist, is an ultimately personal experience and exploration. No one celebrates the day they transition from person #2 to person #3. We aren’t really aware of what just happened. It’s a private sea change: from doing your art for a reason, to doing your art for You.

I’m sure you know what I mean.

My ebook

I’m excited to tell you that, after a long winter’s imagining and work, I’ve written an ebook to help person #2 transition to person #3, and to help person #3 gain mastery in abstract painting.

Free to you, my ebook is called How to Bring Your Abstract Art to Life, A Manifesto of freedom and confidence for the creative soul. (33 pages)

It will help you to see abstract painting in a new way, so that you have a way to move forward to make your paintings better.

Birth of Abstract Painting Mentor.com

I’m excited to announce that I have created a new website for my business of mentoring artists: AbstractPaintingMentor.com.

Several years ago, a student in my Abstract Acrylic Painting class in the Continuing Education department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, asked me whether I taught privately. Julieann had taken several classes with me and we had become friends. Another student and friend, Candace, who had also taken many classes with me, piped up that she wanted to join us.

That was the beginning of my mentoring of abstract painters, a business that has continued growing ever since.

Julieann, Candace and I still meet for mentoring, and have a great time together discussing their art (with a little gabbing thrown in!).

Candace Joseph and Julieann Knox at a recent mentoring session in Candy's studio.

Candace Joseph and Julieann Knox at a recent mentoring session in Candy’s studio.

Please check my site out at www.abstractpaintingmentor.com. The home page tells about my new, free ebook, How to Bring Your Abstract Art to Life, A Manifesto of freedom and confidence for the creative soul. Then there’s an About page and a Mentoring page that offers you an “Art to Heart” mentoring session.

I’m thrilled to have a vehicle for reaching artists who want to further their abstract painting training.

Let me know what you think!